I still vividly remember the day that I got so angry with my kids that I scared myself. All because of spilled milk.
The day started late, again. I slept in because I didn’t have the energy or ambition to get out of bed any earlier than the very last second I had to. Like most mornings back then, I woke up, already at a low, not happy to be awake or to start yet another mediocre day.
I had an appointment, that morning, so I showered and started to apply the massive amount of makeup I wore back then to hide what I felt were many imperfections. The boys, who were about 2 and 4 at that time, woke up early so they interrupted my hair and makeup routine a bunch of times.
At this point in my life, I felt the compulsion to prepare for everything 30+ minutes in advance and, if I was behind on my own “early” schedule, anxiety would wash over me and I’d start to get angry and frustrated about being “late”. I also had a strong compulsion to do everything with routine and lists and, if I got off track with that, more of the anxiety, anger, and frustration would pile on.
By the time I got downstairs to make breakfast, I was already at a 7/10 on the rage scale. It felt, to me, like nothing was going right already in my day which converted, in my mind, to
‘I’m failing. Why can’t I do this? What’s wrong with me that I can’t be the mom who gets it all done?’
Carter was still a young pre-schooler with clumsy hands and a short attention span. Every morning, I had to remind him to keep his milk in his cup because we’d had spilling accidents in the past. That day, like other days before, he reached for something on the table and knocked over his cup of milk, spilling it across the table and onto the floor.
I don’t mean that in the funny ‘mom-got-mad’ way. I mean, literally, I snapped.
I started screaming and swearing, throwing the cup across the kitchen to the sink, trying to clean up the mess all with hot tears of rage and defeat pouring down my face and two toddlers crying alongside me. My heart aches writing, and reliving, this and I still feel so much guilt for the way I reacted towards my kids.
I remember being SO ANGRY that I thought I might do something awful.
Some pull in me made me leave the situation and go to my room and cry it out there. I punched the wall, I screamed into the pillow, and I felt so much pain and pressure in my chest — the rage trying to release. It took me a long time to calm down enough to go back to my kids to apologize.
Thankfully my morning appointment was with my therapist, who I’d seen for, post-partum depression and anxiety, since I had my first son. As soon as I got there, I collapsed into tears and replayed our morning to her. She helped me see that I’d done the right thing by removing myself and explained that we all have these volcanos of emotion inside us.
That day, my volcano started smoking when I woke up late. Then, the hot lava started to grow as my morning routine was interrupted. My negative self talk added fuel to have the lava bubbling at the top of the volcano and the moment the milk spilled, it erupted.
She taught me that, when I feel even the smoke or the initial development of lava, THAT is when I need to take the time out. My particular method of calming down was sitting in our arm chair with my head phones in, calming music playing, and my eyes closed for 5 minutes. I taught this to my boys and my husband so that, when they saw me in that chair with headphones in, they knew not to bother me for my 5 minutes because it was me trying to be a calmer, happier, more patient mommy for them.
The method helped to control my rage and I still utilize a variation of it (closing my eyes and deep breathing for a few minutes) today to calm my anxiety, impatience, and anger.
Don’t think that was a magic fix-all for me, though. I continued in therapy and on medication to develop other tools and strategies to help. I got my body healthy, which in turn helped my mind to stay healthy, so that I could fully utilize the therapy tools I developed. I did personal development and found a career path that gave me fulfillment so that my days are mostly happy and positive now. Instead of waking up with dread to start the day, I wake up excited to start the day.
Mama, it’s a work in progress, always. Depression and anxiety never go away, you just develop tools to navigate life while dealing with them. But remember, always, that you are not alone. So many women go through these seasons and suffer alone, thinking they’re the only one. If you need support, if you want to talk, reach out! ❤
If you are in a situation where you feel you may be a danger to yourself or others, including your children, call 911 immediately. Getting help is the strongest, bravest thing you can do for yourself and your family.